Anderson Knight Architects


How to Architect Step Three: Design Development


In an effort to educate everyone on the process of architecture, we have created a video series teaching what exactly it is architects do throughout the design and construction process.

Join us in our third episode of: How To Architect!

As discussed in the video above, Design Development is all about adding levels of detail to the design. This step is where we typically bring consultants into the picture (If they’re not on board yet) for structural design, electrical systems, plumbing systems, HVAC systems, and any other specialized work. As an air traffic controller, our main team role in this phase is to ensure all of the different systems and selections our consultant team choose fit within the overall design constraints and the project budget, all while fulfilling the aesthetic and architectural vision for the building.

Design Development is also when we as architects ask more questions of the client in order to ensure the proper systems align to their ideas and perceived functionality. It is in this phase where we ask you if you’d prefer individual thermostats in every single room in your house, or if you’d like to have exposed coil HVAC ducting running through your apartment units. It’s really about fleshing out the design and ensuring all systems are cohesive and working together.

Many decisions we make could have far-reaching consequences, affecting the logistics and implementation of the project.

The decisions that we make (We means with us and YOU) often affect the logistics and implementation of the project. For example, selecting a unique product to use as an exterior finish for a specific portion of wall could have far-reaching consequences. Maybe the exterior finish is a more expensive finish than previously budgeted, and therefore it would result in selecting a lower budget material later on in the project. Or maybe that exterior finish material creates a custom, complicated window detail resulting in a more costly exterior finish price from the contractor. These are the things we are looking into and refining during Design Development. These are the things we are discussing through with you in order to make sure you’re comfortable and on-board for any and all decisions that are made.

We have one rule about Design Development: Design Development cannot be rushed. The more thought and research we can put into this phase of the design, the better and more efficient the rest of the design phase is. If we don’t have the proper time to develop our design, our construction documents could potentially have gaps in them and not be fully detailed out like they should. More change orders in the field. More construction issues and concerns. More headaches and hard places. If we don’t spend the time here, it compounds problems and issues over the rest of design and construction.

More headaches and hard places.

If we don’t spend the time here, it compounds problems and issues over the rest of design and construction.

The outcome of the Design Development phase is a fully realized and coordinated design. One that is able to be documented efficiently and ultimately built on its specific site. There’s still a ton of detailing and documentation that needs to happen during the next phase, but at the end of Design Development, the building should be locked in and generally unchanged through the rest of the Construction Documents phase.

And that’s it for design development! If you missed our last Episode, click HERE to check it out.

Join us in our next episode to discuss Construction Documents.